Riding in Laos in Jan 2008

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by adventourers, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    16th Jan 2008

    Morning in HXai was broken by the crows of the roosters. The rest of the riders had their breakfast while I went alone to settle the paper which was quite fast as we had green light clearance from Laos Embassy.

    Cleared the paper work, we had our stomach filled, we rode toward LMT and to head on the Xieng Kok. Road to LMT was superb! Reached LMT at no time as we stopped along the way to visit a temple. We had our lunch at a good restaurant runned by the Chinese at LMT.

    We continue to proceed to XKok which half of the road is not well maintained when the Shaji's Diversion side pannier flew off twice from the hinge. The box was tied back up using various method to ensure it stays that way.

    The 2nd half of the journey was off roads all the way till XKok. The off road were like no ends and there is no proper civlization along the way except the tribes villages. I was so worried that when we reach XKok that there is no guesthouses to stay as it is so out of the world. The thought of us staying at the tribes's home worries me especially with the bunch of riders that I am with.

    Finally we reach almost 6 pm where night fall comes earlier then Singapore. Managed to check into the XKok resort with each rider a room to stay. It is quite a creepy place as the huts are facing the Mekong River and there is nobody on sight except us. We parked our bikes in beside the huts.

    Dinner was very very simple in a small coffee shop if that is a coffee shop or more like a sundry shop with a small stall in the front of the shop. They managed to cooked up some stuffs thru the supervision from some of the riders.

    Back to the Resort, we all gathered at one of the Chris's room who had brought a notebook and we reviewed our movies and photos. The generator was off at about 930 pm and it was total pitched dark. All of us slept early knowing that we will have to ride back the same route the next day to Boten. What an Adventure!

    The link to photos from Huay Xai to Xieng Kok:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventourers/sets/72157603853756919/

    Temple by the roadside...
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    The little girl was so happy getting the dress donated by one of the rider...
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    Diversion doing off roads...
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    One of the traditional tribe, I am refering to the lady and not the guy..
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    That's is how they catch their fish, with the mask and a home made wooden harpoon...
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    Ah Ma sat this way to video the riders....
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    Gathering in Chris's hut....
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    PS: Don't let my Singha boss know..Laobeer is good at room temp or cold but Singha is good only when it is cold. When it is drank at room temp, it is very bitter. :roll:
     
  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Good on you Alex for keeping the posts coming.
    Yeah I agree totally on Xieng Kok - not a real friendly or nice place to hang out at. Been there three times now & am always happy to leave & not spend a night there. It's a weird feeling there alright, & one that Ive never had anywhere else in Laos!
    Ah Ma must be quite a tough adventurer riding like that to video the gang. I'm impressed & wonder what's the longest / furtherest she's gone sitting like that viedo-ing. Ha. Ha.
    It's good to see some pix of all the riders too. They all look like they re mature experienced bikers, ready to go & do the biz.
     
  3. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    Hi David,

    Wow, 3 times..if it is alone, it must be really quite an experience, a bit eirie to be alone at that place. I should have organized a campfire with Laobeer to go with that night as the weather is cold and there is no electricity. Wondering is Phongsali is as such like this as our schedule was off due to an extra day in BKK and we need to cut off Phongsali and did another unplanned route. This is also to catch up with our schedule.

    Wee morning again in XKok, we were woken up by some roosters at about 4 plus. It was still total darkness and I think all of us skip shower as the water is freezing cold.

    We hang up our banner at the Resort and then rode down to the border of Laos/Myanmar and took some photos. Some of us top our gasoline using the bottle methods and off we go after a simple breakfast at the Resort. Our official Videographer, Steven had a head start of 10 minutes to go to the front to wait for us at 1 of the tribal village to shoot us to convoy in to do an entrance for the TV. Ah Ma was the unofficial photographer as we need a pillion to shoot while riding. Anyway, she only sit like that for about close to 10 km and it was too bumpy for her. As usual, the whole villagers crowded around us when we reached.

    Ride out to Boten was faster as we are familiar with the route. Being over confidence has its disadvantages, some of us had many skids on the front wheels and Steven did a 240 degree skid and fell down chasing after my dust hoping to get a shot of me if I were to fall down as I was going at around 70-80 kmh on off road 2-up. It was quite a memorable fall as he had a camera mounted on his bike. He is the dustiest rider on that day. Another happenning is when his bike failed as too much dust had went into his airfilter and caused his bike to choke and Charlie had to tow him halfway thru to Boten.

    Boten was a relieve and a total change from guesthouses to a 5 star hotel. A nite stay is $600 reminbi but we negotiated a 50% discount. The most expensive hotel in such a location.

    The whole Boten town is runned by China Chinese from the legal businesses to all the vices. Feels like another world of China instead of Laos. Well as usual, we look for a good traditional massage and await tomorrow to visit China.

    Link to the Photos:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventourers/sets/72157603840739892/

    Let me introduce the Adventourers..from the right standing:Steven (Official Videographer, DR650), Shaji (Diversion), Ah Kong (VFR), Eric (GS12 Adv), Uncle David (67 yrs old on 650 GS), Ah Ma (Ah Kong's wife but my pillion, our Treasurer), Chris (GS12 Adv), Loh (GS12 Adv), bottom left to right Robin (650 GS), Alex (that's me, GS12 Adv), Charlie (Nighthawk750) and Terry (1150GS).
    2237950287_1299dcd978_b.

    Steven with his fallen DR650...
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    Don't get me wrong, somehow bikers loves to relate themselves to all the sinful things, 3 things: Beer, Women and Dangerous Riding, below is 2 of them... :roll:
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    2237728903_cd7ea4504b_o.

    The expert handling the repairs of the bike..
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  4. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    Boten to Nong Khiaw, supposedly Phongsali but changed due to group decision and also to catch up with our lost schedule...

    We woke up as usual for breakfast provided in the hotel. We had a so so usual hotel standard breakfast. As Steven's bike had some problem, few of us stayed back while the rest when ahead to China border to try to cross over for a walz there. They came back decided not to take the chance as in case they could not come back into Laos as if they were to cross to China and thus coming back will have all the trouble again to do the paperwork. Instead they decided to take some photos and continue with our journey.

    Journey was slow as the whole group's speed follows the last rider therefore, we decided instead of going ahead to Phongsali, we ride to Nong Khiaw. Reaching there, it is realy a good decision as the place is a beautiful place to stay.

    It was breathtaking. The group splits to 2 group staying at 2 resorts located opposite each other. That night, we organized a campfire with a crate of Laobeer to go with.

    Link for the rest of the photos..
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventourers/sets/72157603844365216/

    The wrong bike for that kind of road but lucky the bike got a right rider on it....
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    The locals had that for their meals...wow talking about exotic food...
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    The VFR got a big puncture, we need 3 worms to hold the hole...
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    Some of the things that got loose from the thumping...
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    Terry with his rugged dusty look with NKhiaw's hills as the background..
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    Campfire in the coldness of the night with Laobeer..
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  5. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    19th Jan 2008 Ride from NKhiaw to LPB & 20th Jan 2008 LPB

    The group had decided to break into 2, 1 (3 bikes) using the easier road and the other bigger group using the off road passing Sam Soun via Pak Xeng where 12 km of very very steep off-road. It was a journey of thrill riding the off-road with our so called off road elephants. The journey took us the whole day but without major incidents except many photos and videos taken along the route.

    We arrived LPB around 5 plus wheres the 3 bikes using the better route reach in 3 hours time before noon. Talking about finding trouble...but it was worth the ride.

    The next day, 20th Jan was a full day in LPB where we change back to our tourist's form going for the cave and waterfall tours. The usual touristic things that must do when you are in LPB...

    The link to the ride:
    19th Jan 2008
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventourers/sets/72157603847605059/

    20th Jan 2008
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventourers/sets/72157603850512670/

    The road we rode thru...
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    The off-road is visible from one mountain to another...
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    The tribe (beast) among the tribe (beauties)..
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    The Adventourers halfway shek from the riding...
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    Terry must be pondering, what the hell am I doing here...
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    The steep off-road that David is talking about, give it another a year or 2, you will not have this off-road as they will be tarmaced, bad news for riders like me, no more fun.......
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    Another puncture hitting the rocks...
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    Another fall by our Videographer, Steven...
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    A typical day of a tourist..
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    This food created trouble for 4 of us which 1 was hospitalised...
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    Enjoy, till then...
     
  6. bogster75

    bogster75 New Member

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    HI Alex,,,
    Nice write up,,,Thanks for sharing ........

    As for my ride,,,we dun wave much to share but I did penned down something in my blog.

    Sorry bro,,,dun intend to hijack your thread or something,,,jus wanna share,,,,, :oops:

    Pls feel free to comment yeah,,,,,


    http://72.14.235.104/search?q=cache:A84 ... d=14&gl=au
     
  7. bomb defuzer

    bomb defuzer Ol'Timer

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    Fresh off the news stand.

    http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/guide/stor ... 87,00.html

    Text as follows:

    17 DAYS, 11 RIDERS, 9,000KM...
    Storming the Indo-China trail
    By Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

    February 24, 2008

    IT was bound to be a trip on which they could expect the unexpected.

    Another one bites the dust on the sandy and gruelling trail in Laos. Falling was common, but luckily, none of the riders were injured. Picture: Steven Yap
    Eleven motorcycles, 17 days and nearly 9,000km.

    The trip, to Laos and back, was sponsored by Singha Beer. The 11 riders and one 'professional pillion' from Storm Riders set off on 11 Jan.

    Their bikes, mostly dual-terrain BMWs and a few Japanese sports tourers, were packed with spare parts. Which came in handy.

    Said Mr Alex Quah, 38, leader of the Adventourers, as they called themselves: 'We were just two hours into our journey when we had our first tyre puncture in Pagoh, Johor. The inner tube was torn to shreds.'

    There were more tyre blow-outs, especially when the terrain got rougher. The gruelling terrain would also cause an exhaust pipe to break.

    But while they were ready for what the open road was going to hurl at them, they did not expect delays from the railways.

    After 900km on Malaysian roads, the plan was to load their motorcycles onto a train in Hat Yai.

    This would 'fast-forward' their trip to Chiang Mai, their jumping-off point into Laos.

    But, in Hatyai, Mr Quah, a sales manager in a printing firm, was told that the motorbikes would be put into three separate carriages, which would arrive in Bangkok at different times.

    With their journey stalled, the team took a break in Bangkok.

    THE FUN BEGINS

    On 15 Jan, the group arrived in Chiang Mai with their motorcycles and rode towards the Laos border.

    Their 11-day expedition in Laos would take them past towns like Luang Nam Tha, Boten, Vieng Kham and cities like Luang Prabang and Vientiane, before reaching the Thai border at Ratchathani, where they would take a train back to Hatyai.

    Said Mr Steven Yap, 29, the group's photographer: 'It was common to ride off-road for 60km stretches. On such terrain, we would spread out to have better vision and avoid the dust clouds coming from the wheels.'

    Nevertheless, Mr Yap had to take the pictures. 'I followed closely behind the riders,' he said.

    'Unfortunately, I wasn't ready to be powdered with so much dust.'

    The team could not ride fast as there were potholes, chickens and piglets to avoid.

    Falls on sandy trails were common, but nothing too serious, said Mr Quah.

    The riders had received training earlier, in oil palm plantations in Johor.

    MEETING VILLAGERS

    Stopping in villages, the team was greeted with smiles and curiosity.

    Mr Quah added: 'The moment you stopped, the whole village would descend on you. It was hard to communicate, but simple gesturing usually got the message across.'

    They gave clothes and Singha Beer watches and caps to the villagers.

    Back on unpaved roads, the Adventourers soon found themselves riding 'into the clouds'.

    Said Mr Yap: 'It was a strange yet pleasant feeling to ride among the clouds.'

    The highest elevation of 1,500m above sea level was recorded on the team's Global Positioning System, said Mr Quah.

    The mountains were beautiful but there were hidden dangers. A fall could send man and machine rolling down the sides of steep slopes.

    Said Mr Yap: 'When you fall on an incline, picking up a 100kg motorcycle can be like trying to lift a 300kg bike.'

    The temperature dropped to 13degC and one senior rider had to be bundled in several blankets in a hotel room.

    Added Mr Quah: 'Whenever we rested at hotels along the way, we ensured that our bikes were safe and that there was hot water.'

    With the muck off their bodies and helmets off their heads, the riders indulged in 'the tourist thing' - going to wet markets and visiting the sights.

    Close to the Chinese border in Boten, porcupines, bats and rats were local delicacies.

    Along winding rivers, metal-hulled sampans - made from fighter jet fuel tanks from the Vietnam War era - criss-crossed the waters, carrying locals and market produce.

    The experience of watching the way people lived in Laos and meeting people on the road was priceless, Mr Quah said.
     
  8. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    Great news for the biking community to create more awareness of the wonders of riding! Hope to have more people take riding as another option for an adventurous holidays..

    BTW, Yus, your write-up was a great one. Hope we could arrange to organise 1 again but not 2 countries at a same ride..Tibet, anyone?

    It is a yearly affair for me, so one country one year unless the country is so big that I may do 1 country in 2 trips by sections such as China...

    22 Jan 2008, Ride from LPB to Phosovan to Van Vieng

    It was a wee morning when we had our breakfast provided by the hotel to start our journey early as we need to hit to Vientienne for an over nite stay. But we could not at the end of the day due to the distance and the pace we are riding so end up at Van Vieng which is a not a bad place to stay, though a bit touristic.

    Ride to Phosovan was beutiful with me clocking the highest point there at 1522 meters. The view was awesome with the ride above the cloud and not so hot weather.

    Plains of Jars gave me the feeling of a very isolated feelings. A feel that I am so alone when I was there. The sceneries along the way nearer to Phosovan is so different landscape compare to mountains that we have been riding as you can see fields and fields of spacious plains mostly in brown colors.

    While riding, I was searching for Bomb Shells that the natives had used to built houses and I managed to only see all of those at the Tourist Information Centre.

    Due to the return leg, we have to ride at night to Van Vieng which we do it the convoy style and riding at night was quite a pleasant change as the night gave us a different feelings. Not to mentioned the sunset scenery was very awesome.

    When we reached Van Vieng and check into Nana, as usual, some went for massage and some sat at the special bed and chair at the coffee shop to enjoy some Laobeer at the coolness of the night. Awaits the next day for Vietnam border, Nam Pao.

    The link to the photos:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventoure ... 852976124/

    Roti Prata, Laos and Thailand style..
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    A view that can kill a biker when we are riding (gotta watch the road too)..
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    Another perpective...I can the the road ahead..
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    Even further view...
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    Heh..heh..a Warning to all unintended and intended unlawful acts...
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    Should I jump over?
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    Big and small bombs...
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    Another view that can kill a biker but in poor lightings...
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    Relax and cruising mode..
    2243832158_3cf214e438_b.

    More to come...enjoy..
     
  9. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    Hi,

    I have to apologize for the long absence as busy with work and work and work.

    I will post another person's full reports from Day 1 to end of the trip after his report is published out into the Motorbike's Mag.

    Thanks again and looking forward to another adventure year after year.

    Enjoy and ride safe always to ride another day.

    Regards.
     
  10. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    Hi Everyone,

    I am now stationed in HCM, Vietnam. Vietnam is a beautiful country to visit. Vietnam here we come..real soon.
     
  11. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    Introduction
    We have 11 bikes, 12 people, 18 days and more than 8000km of travel. It is our vision to ride through Laos via its borders with Myanmar, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. A new trip a new adventure and much to look forward to as I embark on Singha Laos Riding Expedition. We have all packed and geared up for anything we can think of and what is left is to ride. This will be a great escape from the hubbub and routine drab of everyday life. The lure of the open road is a never-ending source of release for me. Any rider on the road will love the freedom and passion to live every mile to the fullest.

    Rewind back to a year ago, our team leader and organizer Alex Quah was in the planning stage for his latest project. Another bike trip that is further than Malaysia or Thailand. Every year is a new location. After much of Thailand, Golden Triangle and even Cambodia, he is targeting Laos as his next destination. It is not a tour to visit places of tourist attraction, but to attempt a bike trip of uncommon routes. It is a huge amount of legwork to plan and organize for any kind of long distance travel, especially a road trip by bike. After months of preparation and sorting out all legal and official documentations needed on the trip, he realized that funding is the real main issue to overcome.

    Sponsors were hard to come by given the short amount of time until we set off, not to mention other trip issues that needed attention. The expedition was planned on a tight budget base on the available resources. Moreover, Alex is still lacking a writer/videographer for the trip. I was invited to join him and his team for this event initially. Due to my own personal commitments, I had to back out. However, by a fluke chance, it was finally resolved and I jumped onto the last bandwagon and signed up for the ride.
     
  12. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 1 – Set off
    So here I am, at the day of set off at LC food court in front of all our friends and family members that came to support. Not to mention the publicity from Mediacorp Channel 8, for whom I have become the unofficial videographer. After all the media interviews and photo taking, we strap on our gear and gun our engines for the ride out of Singapore. Negotiating through a weekend jam all the way to the Tuas 2nd Link, we pass the customs and finally begin our 900km leg on the North-south highway.

    Reaching Seremban R&R, we encounter the first problem before even touching Thailand. Uncle David our oldest rider of 67 punctured his BMW GS650 rear tyres on the highway and rode for a while with a flat before entering the rest point. It was the wee hours of morning and we were all contemplating changing his inner tube on the spot. Luckily, we managed to get a local 24-hour mechanic to ride over and change the tube for him. It was fast and efficient service, as the tyre was fixed within an hour. The rest of the journey to Hatyai Thailand was without much event.
     
  13. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 2 – DAY5: Delay in Schedule
    Our transit through Thailand starts from Hatyai. In an effort to save time and energy plus the unforeseen wear and tear on our bikes, we have planned to travel by train. Taking a train with our bikes on it, we will stop at Bangkok before heading all the way up to Chiang Mai. Nevertheless, things were not as smooth as we would have envisioned. Problems began with the miscommunication and confusion with the railway station staff and officials. Our 11 bikes were split into four different train schedules enroute to Bangkok and if that was not enough, one of the trains broke down. The wait for a replacement train head resulted in a one-day delay in our expedition plan. By the time we arrived in Chiang Mai, we are one and a half days behind our schedule.

    We had to push off from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong with haste. It was a race against time to cross over to Huay Xai, Laos’s border before they close at 6pm. Although making it on time to clear the customs we were told that, the bike registration counter closes at 4pm every day. It was only around 3pm, but we cannot seem to make headway with the custom officials. Having no choice, we found a guesthouse to stay the night and wait until morning to complete our registration procedure.
     
  14. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 6 – 1ST Day Riding in Laos
    After dealing with all the paperwork and a refreshing breakfast of eggs and toasted French loaves, we are at last beginning our expedition ride in Laos. Maybe it is the jitters and excitement of starting our actual journey or probably just the fact that the bikes were too laden by luggage. Chris whom rides a BMW GS1200 Adventure lost his balance while stationary on his bike at a petrol station just 100m from the main town of Huay Xai. He dropped his bike with a loud thud and marked the opening of being the first bike fall. A few of the team members rushed to his aid to pick up the huge bike. Due to the frame guards, his new bike only suffered minor scratches and nothing was broken.

    After the petrol top-up, we ride northeast towards Luang Namtha. Laos’s vehicles are left hand driving which is the reverse from Singapore. I had to constantly remind myself that I am riding on the right side of the road as I unconsciously drift to the left. The Initial roads were newly paved, as they were still sand n dust trails a year ago when our two person recce team came to check out the routes. These new roads are like unfinished projects as we came across numerous stretches with road tar caked on them. It was a splattering feast for our bikes as the tar was flung onto the framework and plastic parts. I even got tar flicked onto my helmet visor. It will be some task to clean off later.

    to be continue....
     
  15. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    Aside from the tar-laden roads lies the positive aspect to brighten any rider’s day. We got some good roads with wonderful corners and twists that formed “A” roads cut right into the mountain range. Not to mention the beautiful scenery along the way added a magical touch to the ride. We constantly stop to take pictures and videos of whatever that caught our fancy along the scenic route.

    From Luang Namtha, it was a torturous and badly paved road to Muang Sing. It is a necessary route in order to cut west to Xieng Kok, border to Myanmar. After Muang Sing, the challenge of this trip began in earnest. This stretch of road is predominantly grade 3 red earth tracks. The terrain is mostly flat and straight, but there is soft sand area on top of the red earth and stones that provided no traction for our tyres. Even so, I had a fantastic time riding through some rear wheel skids with certain impunity as I have the lightest and most suitable bike in the team. My Suzuki DR650 simple pranced around the trail with ease. It was most fascinating to see the amount of red dust our tyres churn up as we ride by. Shaji, Ah Kong and Charlie faced some tough ride among our group as they are riding road bikes. Ah Kong had the worst of it because his bike is a sports-tourer with pretty hard suspension and low ground clearance. Three of them cannot afford to go into any potholes for fear of cracking their rims or worse, crash and fall.

    To be continue...
     
  16. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    Enroute to Xieng Kok, we pass through several topless tribe villages that are indigenous to the area. However, they are more civilized now and most of them wear clothes. Even so, we still manage to spot some of their women baring their top while doing everyday chores. It can be quite a distraction between eyeing the road and the next soft spots while abstaining from staring too hard at bare top women walking about along the villages. Nevertheless, the women are the least of our concern as the main danger is creating road kills. We need to be extremely cautious no animals like pigs, chicken, ducks or even buffaloes and cows cross into our riding path.

    I had quite a few close shaves, with one right before we arrive at Xieng Kok being the most unnerving. This time, it was not some poultry animal acting as road obstacles. There was a lot of dust churn up from the previous bikes before me. It enveloped my whole vision and I cannot see a thing in front of my path. Suddenly, out of the smoke and dust, a big truck appeared and I was on a head on collision with it. I got a grip on my reflexes not to freeze and swerve my bike at the very last moment to evade the truck to the right. After that heart stopping moment, I rode out of the air of dust and reached Xieng Kok very dusty and parched from the off roads action. It would seem that I am not the only one with a tale of two to tell. Robin and Eric made the first kill of our trip. Robin’s GS650 Dakar slammed into the side of a dog hard. The dog limped away bloody and most likely will not survive. As for Eric, his bike’s rear wheel went over a piglet giving it instant death. Both of them were lucky and did not crash in the process of the road kill.

    We all rest early that night after the tiring ride. The resort we stay in is eco friendly, which means no hot water to bath. After a freezing shower and a not very appetizing dinner, we discovered that the power generators shut down at 9.30pm. With only candles to illuminate, it sure leaves little else to do but sleep early.
     
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    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 7 – Bike fall and breakdown
    Dawn was a noisy affair, as the cocks began to crow non-stop like an alarm clock. I woke up to a misty morning as I gazed out of my resort hut. All our huts were lined up by the cliff running along a river that overlooks a foggy Myanmar at the opposite bank. The chilly air was an easy 14degrees and I hurriedly put on my riding gear while shivering. After breakfast, we ride to the Myanmar border and take our group photos before setting off.

    Riding out of Xieng Kok, we had to back track on the path we took the day before in order to reach Boten our next destination. Having a good feel of the track, as it was still fresh on my mind, I rode faster than before. I was using a small mounted camera on the handlebar to shoot tracking footage of the dust while riding off-road. Following behind Alex with Ah Ma as pillion on his BMW GS1200 Adventure, I was trying to capture all the dust that gets churn up from his rear wheel. We were doing 70-80km/h on average and it proves to be a bad move for me as I am seeing mostly dust. During a right bend with a slight down slope, my front wheel hit some soft sand causing a fork dive. I tried revving my throttle to dig out of it, but my wheel was sunk in too deep too late. My front tyre skidded to the left and my rear slided to the right while the whole bike crashed down on the left side into soft sand and earth. The bike slided and did a 240 spin as I let go of my handlebar. I roll off my bike backwards and the momentum roll me upside down balanced on my helmet before falling back on my knees.

    It was a soft fall and I was not injured, lucky there were no stones on my fallen path. The team stopped their bikes to check on my well-being. Picking the bike up after all their photo taking, I assess the damage to be minimal. A bent gear shifter, a broken pillion peg on the left and a slightly messed up hand guard. Other than that, the bike is good to go.
    We exit the off roads at Muang Sing and reached Luang Namtha without further incident. Or so I thought. After the lunch break, we were setting off for Boten. This is where my bad luck began as my bike broke down after riding for 2km. Thankfully, Alex, Ah ma and Charlie were behind me and saw my bike broke down. We stopped by the roadside to check the bike but to no avail. The petrol just does not seem to be going in to the carburetor, so we suspect the dusty ride and fall may have choked up some engine parts. Without further choice, we decide to tow my bike to Boten and bring it to a bike shop. It was hard to see any big trucks passing by and in the end; Charlie suggested towing me with his Nighthawk 750.

    It was a scary 60km journey to Boten. Bike to bike towing takes both hands to clap, an experienced rider at both ends. If one falls, it will pull the other bike down regardless. We had a few narrow escapes, as it was difficult to maintain rope tension especially during cornering. Both of us breathe a sigh of relief when we reach Boten safe and sound.
    Upon reaching, I had help from the team to strip down the bike for a more thorough check. We discovered that the air filter was caked with a lot of dust and I took it out to wash and dry overnight. I hope that will solve the problem.

    Amidst my bike problems, I still have time to scout around the small town that is Boten. It is primarily a Chinese influenced town as it is border to Mohan China. Everything in the town has Chinese words and character to it. From the buildings to the shops and the banners to the billboards, we almost did not find any vestige of Laos anywhere. Even most of the hotel staff and shop owners are Chinese. The hotel we stayed in is five star, a huge leap from where we came from the night before. It even has its own in-house casino. Being a small town, we tour it without much effort and I was in need of a good massage after that fall I took earlier in the day. After finish touching up my bike, a few of us went for massage at a parlor to ease some aching muscles from all our riding.
     
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    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 8 – Day of bike incidents
    It is a Friday morning, the 8th day since our journey started from Singapore. We had planned to cross the border at Boten over to Mohan for a few hours tour, but found out that we cannot ride in legally. Add to the fact that no transport services were available to ferry us back and forth, we decided to cancel the cross-border trip and suffice with snapshots at the China border milestone. Therefore, we geared up for the next journey up north to Phongsali. I installed my cleaned air filter back into the air box of my bike. As I start my bike, it kept choking and sputtering until the engine stall.

    Doing another round of inspecting of my bike left me with a shock. I discovered that there is a crack across my titanium exhaust end can on the bottom near to the mid section. Terry was my savior and our team’s handyman with all his bike tools and technical background. He used some plasticine-bonding compound to patch back the crack on my exhaust, and then taped the bond patch down with aluminum foil tape. After the patchwork hardened, I started my bike again and the engine roared to life. The choking and sputtering has ceased.

    The journey out of Boten was filled with some pretty bumpy and bad roads. It was a succession of corners and bends along small roads. Along the way, it leads through numerous villages with plenty of breath taking scenery and cold fresh air. I never seem to get enough of photographing the captivating mountain terrain that seemed to stretch out on both sides of the road for miles. The cool air only heightened everyone’s spirits to ignore the bad roads and ride at an easy pace while enjoying the remarkable view.

    We decided to stop at Oudom Xai for lunch and re-plan our route. After some discussion, it was finalized to forgo Phongsali as it is not possible to cover the remaining 200 over kilometers before nightfall. Furthermore, we did some calculation and realized that it will buy back one day we lost transiting in Bangkok. In the end, we choose to ride east to Nong Khiaw. It was to be a day of incidents as we ride on through the winding roads. The first person was Robin who got his 2nd road kill for this trip and went over a chicken. Eric was spared from bloodshed this time round, but his bike broke down as loose rocks on the road churn up by his front wheel hit his side stand kill switch sensor. It messed up the wire circuit and the GS Adventure refused to start. Robin fresh from his road kill came along and saw him stopping by the roadside. Between the two of them, they manage to improvise and create a bypass connector to start the bike up again.

    Another bike to suffer mishap was Peter aka Ah Kong on his Honda VFR. His rear wheel hit some sharp stones and one of them cut into his tyre and caused a puncture. This time, Eric was there with Charlie to help him. They stopped by the roadside to access his rear wheel and found a gaping hole. It took three tyre worms in order to fill up the puncture and pump up the wheel with liquid inflator. Uncle David’s bike was the next on the list. His rear mudguard took too much vibration from the bad roads and it just fell off while riding. Terry did his magic and helped to fix it back with some araldite bond on the bolts and nuts to secure it. Upon reaching Nong Khiaw, Charlie told us his headlights had cracked at the metal brackets and was falling off. He used some gaffer tape to secure his headlights back in place.

    Nong Khiaw has a certain charm to it with all its natural scenery. It sits in a valley surrounded by mountain range on both sides with Nam Ou River cutting through. We stayed at Phanoy and Sunset Guesthouse just after a long concrete bridge overlooking the river. Our guesthouses are wooden structures perched at the edge of a cliff with a balcony that faced the river providing a fantastic view of the locals and their daily activities by the river shore.

    Bathing was a challenge and a rude shock as the water is freezing cold with no comforts like a water heater. At least there is electricity the whole night through to charge our gadgets. Dinner was a sumptuous fare and we even organized a campfire with the help from our hosts. Gathering around the warm fire in a cold windy night under the moon lit sky, we recount the day about all our riding adventures and singing in merriment like old scouts.
     
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    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 9 – Steep off-road challenge
    Today, we have a change of plans in our trip again. The initial route is to travel east and loop around Phonsavan via Houa Phan to Luang Prabang in the south. In order to cut time and distance traveled, we opt for an off-road track that goes south from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang. In light of safety adding to the fact that this off-road section consist of 12km very steep terrain, we split into two groups. Shaji, Ah Kong and Uncle David were to take an alternate path different from the rest of us, which are tarmac roads to Luang Prabang.

    Enroute to the off roads, we stopped at a cave for some photo taking. I dropped my bike a second time, Morning dew had left the grass patch we parked on slippery and wet. While moving off, my rear wheel spin off and lost traction resulting in a slip and fall landing on the right. It was just a small fall, but this was a lesson that taught me to treat grass with more respect in future. Reaching the off roads, we rode into 60km of mostly soft sand trails that consist of 12km of steep slopes. With our luggage encumbering our maneuvering, it takes a lot of concentration and riding skill to stay on two wheels. Navigating down the steep slopes was an endurance challenge as the traction was bad and we were usually on a down slope incline with countless corners allowing very little margin for error. It was a tiring and taxing route as we have cliff wall on one side and cliff-drop on the other. Being very cautious, we did not travel fast as a miscalculation in speed and slowing down will result in skidding off the cliff-drop into the ravine below. How I wish I had knobbies on my wheels. Riding at only 30-40km/h between first and second gear, I still had to constantly rear brake down the steep slopes until my brake pads start to overheat and lose its grip.

    We were all exhausted by the time we rode out of the 60km treacherous trails, which took us close to 2 hours to cover. It was a great relief everyone came out in one piece and no one drop their bikes. We had a lunch break at Pak Xeng to recover from the grueling ride. After lunch is another 80km of gravel and stone trails that are a breeze in comparison. We were able to push at faster speed as the traction is much better. Loh who also rides a BMW 1200GS Adventure was enjoying the change in pace too much that he went over one too many sharp stones and got his front wheel punctured. Eric was our tyre repairman for this trip as he had a handy electric air pump powered by his on-bike socket outlet. After fixing the puncture with some worm patch, Loh ride on once more.

    Leaving the off roads trail; we are just a short ride away from Luang Prabang. Just as I start to open up the throttle on the tarmac roads, my bike start to sputter and choke to a stop. Tried as I could, the bike just will not start. Having no choice, I tried to drain my carburetor of all excess petrol for any dirt particles. When that did not work, I strip out my air filter to start the bike in a last attempt. Still the engine would not start. I was the last bike and no one saw me stop my bike until I have not turn up for awhile. Charlie and Terry turned back to look for me and found me by the roadside. After some trial and error, we discovered that the petcock was the highest cause of my problem. It was choked up by dirt particles and petrol is not flowing into my carburetor. After switching it to another gauge, my engine was able to start again. We ride on to Luang Prabang with no further problems from my bike.
     
  20. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 10 & 11 – Plains of Jars
    Taking a break from riding, we stayed in Luang Prabang for one day while using the opportunity to join a day tour and soaked in the local sights. By now, we are back on our initial expedition schedule. After a rejuvenating rest, it is time to hit the road again. It is a Monday and day 11 of our trip. We rise early for breakfast and geared up to ride off at 8.00am. Our target is to head east through Phou Khoun to Phonsavan and visit an archeological site. After a short distance, we are riding into a mountain range again.

    Early morning rides are totally worth it as the cool mountain mist hit us, a wonderful wake up call. We rode straight into the fog as we accent higher up through the mountainous terrain, which thankfully is paved with tarmac. In no time, we pass out of the fog back into the sunlight to be greeted by the most magnificent view that nearly astounded me. Stopping by the roadside just before a local village that line the mountain pass, I gazed in awe at the spectacle on my right. I was above a sea of foggy clouds, which spread outwards to the far horizon where it blends into the sky with no land in sight. The only indication of reality was scattered masses of solitary mountain peaks, piercing through the clouds, grand and majestic in the midst of their unearthly surroundings. Tearing my gaze away from the hypnotic scenery, I rode on through the countless “A” roads that is easily 1000 over meters above sea level.

    While riding to Phou Khoun, we had an accident in our group. Uncle David was negotiating a bend and entering a straight when his rear wheel skidded on some diesel and crashed on his left side. His bike kept sliding until the rear wheel went into a small drain by the roadside. With quick thinking, he let go of his bike to prevent crashing in together. Even so, the momentum from the fall made him slide a good 10meters before stopping. With good gear protection, he got up with no major injuries other than a small abrasion on his left forearm. His bike survived except for a bent gear shifter and his left side-box filled with dents and scratches. Being a tough old nut to crack, he was up and riding on in no time at all.

    Reaching Phonsavan is another eye-opening scenic feast as the change in landscape brought on a new infusion to the land. I almost wonder if this is Laos or somewhere else.
    Phonsavan is a predominantly plains landscape province. We are here to visit the Plains of Jars, a main tourist attraction, which was what made the area famous. Even so, after immersing in the fabulous view, I feel that The Plains of Jars may have caused many visitors to overlook its beautiful scenery. The Plains, contrary to its name, is not monotonously flat, but undulating - a rolling meadowlands with softly curved, breast-like hills. With the sun searing it a pale yellow blended with hues of red, brown, and purple hills, lined with sparsely grown pine trees and eucalyptus that can be seen over the whole landscape. The plains are strongly reminiscent of parts of Eastern Europe or even central British Columbia and it is a paradise for motocross riding.
    Walking through the Plains of Jars site 1, we get to see hundreds of jars made of either sandstone or granite of various sizes- from 2x3 feet to as big as 6x8 feet. It is a mystery until this day how something from close to 2000 years ago was left behind and by which civilization. The theory by archaeologists is that they were used as funeral urns in their heyday. Leaving the mysterious Jars, we ride back to Phou Khoun in order to head south to our next rest point, Vientiane.

    When we set off from Phou Khoun, it was just 2 hours shy of sunset. Running short of daylight, we decided to push to Vang Vieng instead. After our dinner in the small town of Kasi, we did our 1st night riding in Laos, convoy style. Reaching Vang Vieng safely with very tired faces, which is no wonder. We have been riding for more than 13hours and all of us were in need of another bout of body massage. Today, Shaji claimed the road kill award as his Yamaha Diversion squashed a chicken crossing the road. While some of the team went in search of massage, the rest took to the nightlife of Vang Vieng. The pubs in town opened until late and interestingly use day beds as chairs for customers to lie down and drink at the same time. The establishments came equipped with TV that is airing English-speaking channels and I even caught one pub showing “Simpsons”.
     
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    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 12 – Vietnam border and sick riders
    It was another early start today. We had breakfast in company of the warm sunrise on the open-air veranda of our guesthouse. The feeling is sublime as we have our toast and eggs while watching a group of Lao monks practicing their daily Dana (blessing food offerings from Buddhist worshippers) walk by the front gates of our guesthouse.

    After a simple but refreshing breakfast, we set off for Vientiane. It was an easy 150km ride with good roads and fabulous cool morning air as company. We reached Patuxay Park and took the opportunity to park our bikes right in front of the Laos national monument for photo taking. The monument is like a replica of the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ in Paris France. In front of the magnificence of this architecture, Eric made a memorable spectacle we will never forget. Thirsty and hot from the afternoon sun, he wanted to buy a coconut drink from a local road store with arms outstretched while seated on his bike. Forgetting to put down the side stand, he was caught off guard by his bike tilting over. In his attempt to counter-balance without holding onto the handlebar created only dead weight falling to the right. Not fighting to hold the bike, his GS Adventure was dropped onto the right to the horror and surprise of some local onlookers. Yes, we got it all on camera for the memories. To conclude our short Vientiane tour, we also visited the Pha That Luang, which is a Buddhist stupa built in the 16th century.

    Leaving Vientiane we pushed on towards Nam Phao, one of the several towns with border crossing into Vietnam. The scenery along the way took on a change back into mountain terrain. Taking a pit stop halfway at Sala viewpoint, it offered a splendid view of crust formations that lined the whole landscape for as far as the eye could see - jagged peaks that stands out uniformly and sits on each mountain range one layer behind another right into the horizon.

    The sun was setting by the time we reached the bottom of a mountain pass that leads in to Nam Phao. Overhead, a looming fog was slowly creeping over the mountainous border. Dusk came pretty fast as we rode into the fog and gloom in no time while it was only 6pm. The fog brought with it a slight drizzle and the temperature dropped drastically without warning. We began to feel the numbness crept up our hands and into our body from the chilly fog. Reaching Nam Phao brought us some bad news. The guesthouse that was introduced in brochures and online websites no longer existed as they have closed down due to low occupancy. Having no place to stay in the dead town, we had no choice but to head back to the nearest town, Lak Sao to look for lodging. Nevertheless, before we left, we still took some time to take photos of the customs and border signpost. The chill spare no one as some of us put on extra raincoats over our jackets to fight the cold. We ride back down the mountain pass with temperature that ranged around 14 degrees. The cold wind that howled in the fog rain only made us feel colder. With chattering teeth and hands numbed, the team endured a slow and freezing ride in the dark through the mountain range. It was times like this I would appreciate having heated handle grips.

    Fighting the chill every inch of the way, we were so glad to come out of the mountain pass and out of the fog rain. On the way to Lak Sao, we were guided by a beautiful full moon while we ride in convoy style through the night. Upon reaching the town, we quickly checked in to a guesthouse to the warmth of a hot shower (well, not that hot but at least its not freezing cold) and blankets before going for dinner. The chilly ride caused a big impact on some in our team. Robin whom has been feeling under the weather since Vang Vieng had started to have diarrhea. Charlie was worse, as he was puking on the way to Nam Phao. Riding back and forth the border through the cold fog gave him a bad chill. Upon reaching Lak Sao guesthouse, he knocked out and went unconscious in bed while shivering non-stop. We suspect he may have suffered from hypothermia and Alex our team leader got him extra blankets to keep him warm. Alex himself had been enduring a headache and fever for the entire day. The sick birds took to bed early as the rest of us kept our body heat up with some home made Laos whisky.
     
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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    Day 13 – To Pakse
    Our sick birds, Charlie and Robin are toughing it out today. Charlie seemed to have gotten diarrhea and spent the whole night emptying his bowel countless times. At least he has stopped vomiting and has recovered from his hypothermia. Setting a late set off time for the benefit of those who fell sick, a few of us took the opportunity to scout around the town of Lak Sao. It is just 30km from the Vietnam border. We walked through a marketplace in search of some Vietnamese coffee powder while changing more Laos Kips for easier purchase of things. Just like any border town, it is very much influence by its neighbor country. Many Vietnamese traveled to Lak Sao and trade with the locals. Some of them even speak English. We hung our expedition banner at the front gates of our guesthouse as a marker for reaching the Vietnam border.

    Before riding off, Charlie went to the toilet again and he was just a lighter shade of pale. We were all concerned for his well-being but it was necessary to push on. At least till the next town or city with better medical care for him to see a doctor. Our plan is to head for Pakse through the town of Thakek and Seno spanning an estimated distance of 500km. Lucky for us, there were no off roads and only tarmac roads this side of Laos. Charlie was the worse for wear for the whole journey south. It was a constant battle for him to fight his bowel urges, not much of a winning fight really. He constantly had adhoc pit stops in order to let go before it hit his pants.

    The road from Seno to Pakse had countless potential road kills. There were many cows, buffalos and goats crossing the road. We had to be extremely cautious even if they were just strolling by the roadside. You never know when they may take it into their head to cross at the last possible minute. It was a really long straight road and I was riding alone for a long stretch before Alex caught up with me. When we were another 30km before reaching Pakse, dusk was approaching as the sun set behind the mountains over the horizon. Stopping only for a short break to admire the orange and red spreading across the velvet sky, we pushed on before the sky fully darkened.

    I must say that it was some scary riding as dusk approach faster than we anticipated. My dim headlights were no good at all in night riding conditions. There were no street lamps to illuminate the roads and all is pitch black other than the annoying headlights glare from the opposite direction. Cars and trucks love to switch on their lights to high beam and blind me most of the time. I was riding by feel once too many as the oncoming vehicles whizzed pass which was when I got into a near miss. After another light blinding truck passed me, I was squinting in a struggle to see the darkness ahead. Just as I was trying to figure out something familiar in front, it struck me that I was riding head on into a moving cart! It was one of those tractor driven carts with no taillights to indicate their presence. I slammed on both my brakes to prevent the collision, but was still too fast. As there were no oncoming vehicles, I swerve hard to the left in order to avoid hitting the tractor and the cart by mere centimeters.

    Everyone arrived at our destination in one piece with some narrow escape during the short night riding episode. Entering Pakse from the north was a unique experience as it uses traffic lights to coordinate three-way traffic. The coming in and going out from a bridge was restrained to only one way at all times due to the width of only one car length.
    Upon reaching Pakse, I realized my exhaust was very loud. On further inspection, I found that the plasticine patch on the crack did not hold. It busted open after the 500km of constant riding and the crack was even wider than before. The entire titanium plate covering my end can was coming off due to the crack. It would take some ingenuity to patch this mess up. I rode into town with my exhaust roaring away like a Moto GP bike. We checked into a grand Pakse hotel for our last 2 nights in Laos.
     
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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 14 – Heading to Voeun Kham
    This was our last day of riding in Laos. We had planned to cover the last portion of our expedition ride by reaching Voeun Kham, border to Cambodia. After breakfast, Eric suggested a method to fix my busted bike exhaust. Using some common sense and simple ingenuity, he found a local welding shop to modify three hose grips to the circumference of my exhaust can. Terry found an aluminum plate to wrap around the cracked and busted portion of the end can. Slipping on the three hose grips over the aluminum plate, we managed to secure down the titanium outer layer back onto the exhaust. There was still some air leaking through, but at least my exhaust note no longer sound like a Moto GP bike.

    With the DIY quick fix completed, we rode off to the south. Enroute to Voeun Kham, Alex planned a scheduled detour to visit Wat Phu. Wat Phu (or Vat Phu) which means "temple on the mountain" in Lao language is one of the oldest archaeological site in Laos, located in Champassak province along the Mekong River in the southern most part of the country. UNESCO also listed it as a world heritage site. We had to board a barge to cross the Mekong River before riding about 15km to reach the temple ruins. As we reach the temple grounds, what we saw was a site in disrepair with much of the architecture in shambles. Some of us made the long way down the stone path to the bottom of the stairs that led up into the actual temple sanctuary. At the prospect of climbing 77 steep and narrow steps, very few continued upwards. I made my way up with Shaji and Ah Kong to explore the highest point of Wat Phu. We realized that this temple has similar influence with Angkor Wat in Cambodia in terms of its architecture and relief carvings. The whole layout of Wat Phu is almost like a copy of Angkor Wat.
     
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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    After our lunch, it was time to move out to the south once more. At this point, the sick birds that recovered enough to join us for this morning ride were suffering a relapse in their condition. Charlie and Robin were still fighting bouts of diarrhea and it seems that Alex had also joined their ranks with a very fragile bowel. In the end, the group split into two- One that head back to the hotel to rest and recuperate and the other that proceed as plan for the Cambodia border. Seven of us took the task of riding the last leg to Voeun Kham and for a chance to view the Siphandone or “4000 Islands”.

    We arrived at Voeun Kham around 3pm to a rustic laid back custom office made of wood on an elevated deck. The border was inhabited by a small village, which was separated by a river with only a handful of shops lining the dirt-paved road. Doing what we came to Laos for, we hanged our expedition banner at a local eatery near the custom office. With our mission completed the team ride back north to find Siphandone- a natural formation claimed to have over 4000 little islets along the Mekong River. When we found the 4000 Islands, we were quite disappointed as it was not as fantastic as we expected. The attraction might need a tour by a boat cruise. Being hard pressed for the short daylight hours, we decided to head back early to Pakse.

    Reaching back to Pakse just slightly before dusk, we were greeted with some unexpected news. Charlie who came back to the hotel early in the day had not recovered at all, in fact his condition only got worse. His vomiting bout had returned to accompany diarrhea making him so weak that a few of us assisted him to the nearby Champassak hospital. The doctor accessed his condition and concluded that it was a food poisoning case. He put Charlie on drip to replenish his body fluid. As Robin and Alex had been taking medicine consistently, it had kept their diarrhea under control.

    It was quite a shock when a few of us went to visit Charlie. His face look shrunken from the constant discharging for the past few days and we almost cannot recognize his haggard and exhausted look. He was puking into a bag just as we entered his ward. The ordeal had left him very weak that he even slurred through his conversation with us. With Charlie’s condition, Alex began to plan for contingency plan in case he does not recover to ride out of Laos the next day. As we chat with Charlie, the student nurses from the hospital came to take his blood samples. To our amazement and to the horror of Charlie, the inexperience nurses pricked 7 times before successfully inserting the needle into his vein. Judging by the poor standards of medical care and facilities offered by the hospital, it was a better choice to transfer him to another hospital in Thailand. The worse case scenario will be to evacuate him back to Singapore by plane. Calling it a night, we left him in the scary hands of the student nurses at Pakse Hospital and walked back to the hotel.
     
  25. adventourers

    adventourers Ol'Timer

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    From the Glasses of Steven Yap>Courtesy of Biker and Adventourer Wravern

    DAY 15 – 18: Journey home
    Through out the night, Alex had been going in and out of the toilet as if his life depended on it. It makes my stomach feel queasy just watching him rushing for release. I had a surprise call early in the morning. Answering my hotel door, I am greeted by a shocking sight. Charlie was at the door with the same haggard look while holding a drip bag with his left hand. Carrying the drip bag at shoulder level, I saw the drip needle still plugged into his vein. Anyone else may have thought him a zombie. Apparently, he did not get a good night’s sleep at the hospital and decided to leave earlier that expected. With the deplorable hospital smell and medical standards, I cannot say I blame him. Other then feeling fatigue, he seemed to look better than last night. After letting us know he is back, Charlie went to his room to get some rest.

    While packing our luggage onto our bikes, Robin starts to sing. His body has recovered well and got him into a singing mood. Borrowing a guitar from the hotel staff, he began to serenade our ears with his “Take me home, Country Road” rendition. It was a light-hearted moment as we sang along and Uncle David even showed some of his dance moves. With our packing done, we are finally leaving Laos and the beginning of our journey home.

    Crossing the Laos border into Thailand was a breeze. We were heading for Ubon Rachathani to buy train passage down south. At the railway station, we unpacked and changed out of our riding gear and prep our bikes to load up the train. It was a smooth transition and we were all able to handle the bike loading efficiently after our initial experience at the beginning of this trip.

    On the train due south, all of us had a lot of time to relax and talked about our whole expedition ride in Laos. Our diarrhea babies were recovering well. I started to pack and organize my video footage of the trip for Mediacorp. The long train ride back to Hatyai gave new ideas of future trips to come. There were even suggestion and ideas from the team to head further north into Vietnam or China. For now, Laos is still too fresh in my mind to ponder about a new adventure.

    As I completed the 900km ride through North-south Highway Malaysia, I was once more back to the urban jungle of Singapore. Strangely, the homecoming gave me flashbacks of all the wonderful scenery while riding in Laos. If someone were to ask me to sum up my trip to Laos, it will be too much to put in words. As close as I can relate: Riding in Laos is a fusion of bad roads, off roads and the occasional long stretches accompanied by gorgeous sunsets n misty sunrises, especially up north.
    Coming down from Luang Prabang is filled with amazing scenery of some above the clouds mountain range with meandering roads seen from one peak linking to the next peak and villages lined up in between. Riding up the mountainous roads into the fog was quite an exhilarating experience only topped by the azure sun's brilliance basking endless mountain peaks jutting above the sea of clouds.
    The plains at Phonsavan have an amazing similarity with the rustic feel and color of the European countryside. It is extremely breath taking and took much determination not to take my concentration off the endless winding roads that is in the good company of crust formations, picturesque villages and simplistic farm life. In terms of bike talk, one phrase speaks volume “It’s another mile well ridden.”
     
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